Jerusalem (Jan. 6)
– Premier Menachem Begin appealed today to a group of British Conservative Parliamentarians “to use your influence so that the European initiative in the Middle East is stopped.” Begin said he hoped the peace negotiations would be resumed in late winter or early spring and expected to be invited to meet with President Reagan, either alone or together with President Anwar Sadat. “There are enough difficulties,” he said. “We don’t need additional obstacles.”
He recalled Israel’s “deep astonishment” at the European Economic Community’s “Venice Declaration” of last June which called for the Palestine Liberation Organization to be “associated with” the peace process. He urged his guests to impress upon Parliamentary opinion at Westminster and at the European Parliament the damage which this form of “encouragement of the rejectionists” could do to the peace process.
The MPs, members of the “Conservative Friends of Israel,” seemed on the whole to agree with Begin when the Premier criticized the British Foreign Office for having sent its officials to meet with PLO chief Yasir Arafat in Beirut recently. Foreign secretary Lord Carrington’s own declared readiness to meet the PLO leaders under certain conditions was “detrimental even though it is conditional,” Begin said.
It was “sacreligious,” he said, to compare the PLO to the pre-State Jewish liberation organizations. The latter had tried constantly to avoid civilian casualties, and grieved whenever any were inadver-
tently caused. The PLO, on the other hand, “boasts at the killing women and children,” Begin said.
OTHER POINTS IN DISCUSSION
Begin made several other points: There may soon be new cooperation with Egypt in the field of irrigation and “perhaps in some other areas too”; “Sadat is the ruler in Egypt: there is no doubt about that whatsoever”, he said when asked how deep Egypt’s commitment to peace really is; Soviet weaponry stockpiled in Libya is sufficient to equip seven divisions; Soviet “advisers” marched together with Syrian troops recently when they massed on the Syrian-Jordan border.
The group brought Begin a letter from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain in which she said that she took “pride in the fact that I was among the founder-members of the Conservative Friends of Israel.” She assured the Israeli leader that “the integrity and security of Israel are of paramount importance to the British government.”
KISSINGER CRITICAL OF EUROPEAN INITIATIVE
Earlier in the day, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said at a press conference here that a separate European initiative would only complicate the Mideast peace process and make progress more difficult: He also called on the U.S. and Europe to resolve their differences on the Mideast.
Kissinger also told reporters that Israel’s West Bank settlements were a problem in the autonomy talks and would become a major impediment in the next stage of the peace process. In an interview in the Jerusalem Post today he said he was against the U.S. negotiating with the PLO even if the PLO accepted United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.